Veterinary Technician Health: How to reduce back injuries

by: Sandra Morales Foster LVT, MSEM, DrPH

We all strive and want to be healthy. Each of us has an idea of what healthy means to us. Health is relative to age, demographics, family history, environment, social economics, and perception. What was considered healthy in the 1800’s is not what is considered healthy today. I am not as healthy today at the age of 53 as I was at the age of 25, however I am considered healthy as a 53 year old. True physical health is not well represented in the media, which shows us heavily tanned and made-up bodies and faces.

A research study conducted involving Alabama Veterinary Technicians in 2011 found that technicians are generally healthier physically than the general public. Some reasons for these results may be the physical demands the profession puts on the technician. The average technician’s job includes lifting, pulling, pushing, and walking. These activities can keep us active and stretching constantly. While this constant activity can be good for us, sometimes we technicians think we have superpowers and the strength of a Clydesdale! I agree we were granted some super powers such as knowing when to jump quickly, how to hang on to the bucking lab puppy, or how to talk just right to the scared dachshund. However, we were not made to pick up the 200 pound Mastiff or Great Dane. There are limits based on body size and conditioning. These limits are set to limit or prevent injuries. It is important for us to maintain good physical health throughout our careers and into retirement.

Back injuries are one of the most common injuries among animal care givers. Many of these injuries are from lifting heavy dogs. To limit back injuries it is recommended that there be two people to lift any animal over 50 pounds. If you are twisting, bending, or in an awkward position your weight should be even lower. It is important to understand the lifting recommendations and modify the work environment to alleviate the demands on your body. Protecting our backs from injury is just one area where we can all help to improve the health of our profession.


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